For more than a decade, if Philadelphia police officers made a typo or were unable to record a precise location for a crime committed in the city, the department would mark the incident with GPS coordinates inside Disney World in Florida. Specifically, the area behind Cinderella’s Castle known as "Fantasyland" became the default location for inaccurate crime data.
NBC10 Investigators learned that over the past six years, more than 5,000 crimes—including 16 arsons, 50 homicides, and 298 auto thefts—were plotted to Disney World.
Robert Kane, the director of Drexel University’s Criminology and Justice Studies, said that it is not uncommon for police departments to deal with mapping messy or imprecise data.
The Los Angeles Police Department used to plot crimes with bad addresses to its headquarters. The industry standard is to place these crimes at GPS coordinates 0,0 -- which is in the Atlantic Ocean.
The Philadelphia Police Department's director of research and analysis, Kevin Thomas told NBC10 he was not aware of the practice until informed about it by the reporters.
After checking on it, he said Disney World was chosen intentionally so that bad data would not muddle Philadelphia crime stats.